A time to be in receiver mode, listening, intuiting and settling into stillness.

As Asian-American theologian Cindy Lee writes of transmitters and receivers: Western culture is mainly “transmitter oriented”, prizing the authority of the written and spoken word, and of getting a point over. But many non-Western cultures prefer “receiver orientation” instead, especially in bringing up children to read body language, cultural expectations, emotional expressions and what’s not being said. “In the Asian American community,” she says, “this ability is known as the “Asian sixth sense”.

Have you ever been on an artist date? The idea was first described to me by Julia Cameron in her book The Artist’s Way – an extremely helpful practical workbook in discovering and recovering your creative self. Julia Cameron describes it as “a block of time, perhaps two hours weekly, especially set aside and committed to nurturing your creative consciousness, your inner artist. Just you and your inner artist. Your artist needs to be taken out, pampered, and listened to. A weekly artist date is remarkably threatening and remarkably productive. If you think this sounds stupid or that you will never be able to afford the time, identify that reaction as resistance. You cannot afford not to find time for artist dates”

It doesn’t necessarily have to cost anything – just time. And its important to go alone – just you and your inner artist, a.k.a. your creative child. Perhaps it’s a visit to a gallery or a flea market. Occasionally for me, it’s a small treat like some fresh mango or even a bunch of flowers.

I recently spent some time sitting quietly in a wood listening to the wind and the birdsong. I found a mossy fallen tree and just sat, hoping that the noisy dogs I had seen in the car park weren’t coming my way. It took a while to settle into receiver mode – I was clearly out of practice, but listening, looking, touching the bark where I sat all slowly helped me to find the quiet place. I enjoyed my exploration and ramblings, finding the deer footprints and marvelling at a wonderfully old tree with its fallen limbs and fabulous new spring leaves ready for another season.

There are plenty of ways to nourish your artist child. Here are a few more suggestions. A solitary expedition to the beach for a sunrise or sunset, a trip to an ethnic neighbourhood to taste foreign sights or sounds, a fun ride on a bicycle. All of these ideas and more will help to increase our capacity for good creative work.